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Archive for the ‘Computer News’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Google hires camel for desert Street View


It’s given us robot cars and internet-enabled glasses — but when it came to creating a “Street View” of a desert, Google hit on a low-tech solution.

It hired a camel.

The beast has become the first animal to carry Google’s Trekker camera, which is typically hoisted by humans to capture 360-degree images of destinations inaccessible to its Street View cars.

PostHeaderIcon If You Think You’re Anonymous Online, Think Again

I’m a little behind in my podcasts, but today I listened to a Fresh Air broadcast from 6 weeks ago about all the data that online services know about you.

Investigative reporter Julia Angwin was curious what Google knew about her, so she asked the company for her search data. “It turns out I had been doing about 26,000 Google searches a month … and I was amazed at how revealing they were,” she tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies.

From NSA sweeps to commercial services scraping our Web browsing habits, to all kinds of people tracking us through our smartphones, Angwin says we’ve become a society where indiscriminate data-gathering has become the norm. Angwin has covered online privacy issues for years, and in her new book she describes what she did to try to escape the clutches of data scrapers, even to the point of creating a fake identity.

“I want all the benefits of the information society; all I was trying to do is mitigate some of the risk,” she says.

Angwin’s book is called Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance. She considers dragnets — which she describes as “indiscriminate” and “vast in scope” — the “most unfair type of surveillance.”

If you are interested in this sort of thing, I highly recommend that you listen to the podcast

PostHeaderIcon For PC Makers, the Good News on 2013 Is That It Is Over

From the New York Times:

The two leading analysis companies tracking the PC industry just delivered their reports on the fourth quarter of 2013, and it was bad.

Gartner had worldwide PC shipments for the quarter at 82.6 million units, a drop of 6.9 percent on the number a year ago. It was the seventh consecutive quarterly decline, Gartner said. IDC put the figure at 82.2 million units, a drop of just 5.6 percent, and less bad than the 6 percent the firm had earlier expected.

PostHeaderIcon Rooting and Unlocking Samsung Galaxy Gio and Samsung Galaxy Discover

A good starting point to learn how to Root the Samsung Galaxy Discover SGH-S730M

USB drivers for Samsung phones

Another old thread about unlocking the Samsung Galaxy Discover

Instructions for how to unlock the Samsung Galaxy Gio

How to Root the Samsung Galaxy Discover SGH-S730M

GalaxSim Unlock – an app I haven’t tried yet

Samsung Galaxy Ace Technical Thread

If I’m not successful, then I can try FastGSM

PostHeaderIcon Working with PDFs

Occasionally I get a couple of PDFs that I need to unlock or want to merge. There are a series of websites that will help you with this. They all appear to be run by the same people:

  • PDFUnlock! – Unlock secured PDF files online for free
  • PDFSplit! – Split PDF files online for free
  • PDFProtect! – Add password protection to PDF files online for free
  • PDFRotate! – Rotate PDF documents online for free
  • PDFMerge! – Merge PDF files online for free

The sites are kind of ugly and have lots of ads, but the features work just great.

PostHeaderIcon PCWorld Exits Print, and the Era of Computer Magazines Ends

From Time Magazine’s Techland:

The news isn’t shocking. In fact, it’s sort of a shock it didn’t happen several years ago. After slightly more than thirty years in print, PCWorld magazine is ceasing publication, effective with the current issue, to focus on its website and digital editions.”

PostHeaderIcon Making Movie Magic More Efficient

From the New York Times:

“The Croods” is a caveman movie from DreamWorks Animation that comes out March 22. The subject may be paleolithic, but the technology approach may well be cutting edge.

“Croods” is a digital product of about 250 billion pixels, with high-definition sound that, along with the images and story, is designed to maximize emotional manipulation of the audience. It is the end point of a process involving hundreds of artists and engineers working in a closely organized system that DreamWorks has been working on for years.

Making a movie with a half-million digital files, containing things like hair waving in the wind or cliffs crumbling into dust, took several years of planning, writing and drawing. It also meant searching for efficiency in the face of escalating costs. Since 2006, DreamWorks Animation has released more than a dozen movies costing at least $130 million. “We’re hoping to reduce that expense while adding more to the experience,” says Lincoln Wallen, the chief technical officer at DreamWorks Animation. “A modern digital environment, whatever the business, has to be distributed and agile.”

PostHeaderIcon Looking for a Lesson in Google’s Perks

From the New York Times:

Google’s various offices and campuses around the globe reflect the company’s overarching philosophy, which is nothing less than “to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world,” according to a Google spokesman, Jordan Newman. But do its unorthodox workplaces and lavish perks yield the kind of creativity it prides itself on, and Yahoo obviously hopes to foster?

PostHeaderIcon Rio’s mosaic sidewalks inlaid with bar codes for tourists

From the Toronto Star:

Rio is mixing technology with tradition to provide tourists information about the city by embedding bar codes into the black and white mosaic sidewalks that are icons of the city.

The first two-dimensional bar codes, or QR codes, as they’re known, were installed Friday at Arpoador, a massive boulder that rises at the end of Ipanema beach. The image was built into the sidewalk with the same black and white stones that decorate sidewalks around town with mosaics of waves, fish and abstract images.

The launch attracted onlookers, who downloaded an application to their smartphones or tablets and photographed the icon. The app read the code and they were then taken to a website that gave them information in Portuguese, Spanish or English, and a map of the area.

There is a picture with the article, and the QR code tiles look pretty cool.

PostHeaderIcon Who Made That Emoticon?

From the New York Times:

“The first line of my obituary is going to mention the smiley face,” says Scott Fahlman, who would rather be remembered for his research into artificial intelligence. But like it or not, Fahlman has become famous for three keystrokes. In 1982, as a young professor at Carnegie Mellon University, he realized the need for a symbol to temper the bickering that plagued online forums. The Internet was just a baby then, and yet already flame wars raged. Fahlman decided that a smiley face could be useful as a “joke marker” (as he called it) to take the sting out of mocking statements or pranks. And so he hunted around the keyboard for a way to make the face. “But what do you use for eyes?” he wondered. Once he found the colon, the rest was easy. He dashed his suggestion off to friends. “I didn’t even proofread the message,” he says.